The cartoonist whose real life inspired Pepé Le Pew explained the skunk's hapless views on romance

"His devotion to women was at times pathetic, at times psychological, but always enthusiastic."

Warner Bros.

The first time Tweety uttered the phrase "I tawt I taw a puddy tat" happened in the 1942 Merrie Melodies cartoon A Tale of Two Kitties.

This cartoon featured two cats, Babbit and Catstello, as a parody of Abbott and Costello.

Voicing Catstello — and Tweety in his debut role (when he isn't even yellow yet, just a featherless hatchling) — was Mel Blanc, an iconic voice actor in cartoon history.

Voicing Babbit was Tedd Pierce, a cartoon screenwriter who rarely voiced characters but whose real life ended up inspiring a very famous figure in cartoon history: Pepé Le Pew.

"If there was ever another pogo stick," cartoonist Chuck Jones wrote in his autobiography, referencing the skunk's well-known hops, "It was Tedd Pierce."

"His devotion to women was at times pathetic, at times psychological, but always enthusiastic," Jones continued. "It would have been impossible to work with Tedd and not come up with the idea of Pepé Le Pew."

Throughout the time that Jones worked with Pierce, Jones knew Pierce as an honest, decent, and thoughtful ladies' man.

In the biography, Pierce is quoted explaining his own hapless romantic views. He said his strategy was to ask a lady out and upon acceptance from a lady, he just fell extremely hard every time.

"I never offer flowers, baubles, or bubbles before an encounter, but my love and admiration and resources become boundless afterward," Pierce said. "I want my love to feel loved, admired, cared for, and deeply aware of my gratitude and affection."

Four years after Pierce voiced Babbit in A Tale of Two Kitties, the character Pepé Le Pew debuted in the 1946 cartoon Odor-able Kitty. Pierce wrote that cartoon.

"It was only logical, of course, that Ted would be in on the beginnings of Pepé Le Pew," Jones wrote.

In Odor-able Kitty, we watch as Pepé's tail bounds through a field of pink flowers. When the "odor of attraction" hits, his tail sticks straight up. He spends the rest of the cartoon in romantic pursuit of the cat he declares is his "little cabbage."

"Tedd worked with me as a writer-gag man for several years, a source of constant surprise and delight," Jones said, proudly pointing to his early work with Pierce as some of his best.

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22 Comments

Pax 21 months ago
Also, ending this story on a positive note, it turns out that Tedd Pierce did, in fact, fell in love with, as well as married, a woman by the name of Wanda Reeves and they had a child together. Unfortunately, he also preceded her in death.
DawnGraham 39 months ago
Pepe Le Pew my favorite cartoon character.
jh4306 39 months ago
speaking of the 3 stooges when i was a little kid my mom would tell me "it's not real" they aren't hurting anyone. also we had local kids tv host....and i bet if your from cleveland,ohio you will remember him. captain penny! he would always say "watch what they do....but don't do what they do". i always took that to heart. i knew what was going on....lol....so did my mom....lol
dmagoon jh4306 39 months ago
I agree, though the Three Stooges violence seems PBS/BBC style compared, for instance, that of "The Flintstones".
leelee1009 jh4306 39 months ago
The Stooges frequently sustained minor injuries when filming, from unclean, and unsafe conditions on the set
LittleMissNoName 39 months ago
Pépé le Putois is also based off of French actors Charles Boyer's and Maurice Chevalier.
justjeff LittleMissNoName 39 months ago
Yes, but Mel Blanc alway said he didn't do imitations - so he put his own spin on Pepe le Pew's voice, leaving us to *presume* it was either based on Charles Boyer or Maurice Chevalier...
daDoctah LittleMissNoName 39 months ago
Meanwhile, Johnny Depp has said that he based his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow on a combination of Keith Richards (of course!) and Pepe Le Pew.
Pax daDoctah 21 months ago
Interesting.
WordsmithWorks 39 months ago
The character of Pepe Le Pew would never fly today. He would be charged with sexual harassment and assault and sent to animal prison.
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leelee1009 WordsmithWorks 39 months ago
Pepe would be a public health hazard, too, since skunks (and raccoons) are major transmitters of rabies!!!
Bricat2001 SalIanni 39 months ago
Wait they used disclaimers for the Brady bunch????
SalIanni Bricat2001 39 months ago
That's right they did! The episodes that I remember them from are "The Un-Underground Movie" and "Kelly's Kids". "Gilligan's Island" had many of them, which I still find strange.
Pax WordsmithWorks 21 months ago
Well, those people would be sued and THEY would be going to HUMAN prison instead. Also, though it is not mentioned here, but there is one Pepe Le Pew cartoon where he befriends a dog that thinks that she is ugly and he is kind to her in the way that Tedd Pierce was to women, so if they want to go after him for that, then they should look at how much that he valued that lady, despite her thinking that she was ugly. Moreover, if you look at a lot of models, bodybuilders, athletes, dancers, and, yes, even professional wrestlers, you will see that a lot of them, both female AND male, were often bullied as children, and/or were told, and/or thought, that they were ugly, which can lead to a lot of bad things, but, had not people had interfered at the right times in the lives of those people, then the lives of those people would have been tragically different, and such was the case with Pepe Le Pew and that one female dog. Moreover, I am convinced that the cartoon that I had mentioned, at least in the Warner Brothers timeline, had happened BEFORE Pepe Le Pew had Penelope Cat. I am also convinced that Pepe Le Pew was going through a bout of depression before he met that one female dog, but when he saw what she was doing, as well as what she was saying about herself, it was a lot like what my Grandma Irene, who herself was a person that went through a lot of adversity in her own life, even more so than my own life, thought when she said, "I felt sorry for myself when I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet". Now my grandma was of hearty stock, but what made her stand out even more was when she was living through the Great Depression herself AND having all of those physical issues in her own life. Anyway, I think that Pepe Le Pew had some sort of epiphany and he saw that the lady dog was in worse shape in her life than he was in his own life. I also think that he married her, but then tragedy struck. Now whether his doggie beloved could not handle life, or she had some sort of tragic accident, I do not know, but I do think that Pepe Le Pew was honestly in a worse place than before he met that female dog afterwards and that Penelope Cat had reminded him a lot of his former beloved, but she obviously could not see that fact, and Pepe Le Pew was just a widower in grief, and possibly had children to raise as a single dad as well, so he felt like he had the need to give the children a mother and, as people that have lost spouses tend to do, they tend to either shut out everyone from the world or they are desperate to be loved again in their lives. Penelope Cat, like the Karens that protest against Pepe Le Pew in the modern era, obviously did not take into consideration those things, but even Penelope Cat came around to understand him, not in a Stockholm Syndrome way, or in a broken psychological mess sort of way, not unlike a Harley Quinn/The Joker dynamic relationship, but, rather, he was simply a man who wanted to love, and to also be loved, who was loved, who had loved a woman, but who had also tragically lost a woman, who had children, and who simply wanted to find love again after his loss, as well as to simply give their children a mother, not necessarily the mother that they had lost, but a good mother that loved them just the same in their lives. Honestly, LEGO AND the Karens that go after Pepe Le Pew like that need to read this article, as well as see that Pepe Le Pew is NOT the kind of love crazed jerk that they paint him out to be, but, rather, that he is indeed a loving being that simply wants to love, and to also be loved, in his life.
LittleMissNoName 39 months ago
Please keep the Looney Tunes a rollin. I'm actually discovering new ones everyday and weekend, that I have never seen on Cartoon Network.
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